Snow shoveling health hazard warning

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Cleaning out our driveways is something we all have to deal with every time we get a big snow storm. If you don’t do it right, you could be causing yourself some serious health risks.

“When you’re working out in the cold, it drives your heart rate to go faster because of that cold,” Dr. Michael Dailey, Chief of Pre-Hospital and Operational Medicine at Albany Medical Center / Regional EMS  Medical Director, said.

It seems simple enough but shoveling snow could put you at a higher risk for a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. It says the combination of cold temperatures and physical labor means your heart has to work harder to keep up.

“It’s hard work. So you’re going to get out of breath and you’re also going to get sweaty and you might have some discomfort in your shoulder and those are also signs of a heart attack so it’s easy to miss them,” Dr. Dailey said.

To get a feeling for what actually happens to your heart while your shoveling snow, we’re going to put a heart rate monitor on me and I’m gonna go ahead and start shoveling

“This is a great idea. We can show how much strain there is even for somebody who is young and in good shape just from shoveling snow,” Dr. Dailey said. “Okay, so your resting heart rate and normal cardiac rhythm is right now sitting somewhere between 60 and 70 beats per minute.”

We’re going to begin our experiment and I’m going to get to work shoveling.

“You’ll notice as you shovel that shoveling is hard work it’s important to remember that if you don’t work hard on a regular basis and you’re not used to shoveling on a regular basis this is going to put a significant strain on your heart.”

My heart was definitely feeling the effects.

“Your heart rate was up at 130 when we first put you back on and now you’re resting at about 120 and that’s just from shoveling for a couple of minutes,” Dr. Dailey said.

To avoid serious strain, the American Heart Association and Dr. Dailey suggest you follow a few key tips.

“Take breaks and take a lot of them. And when you do take those breaks, drink nice warm fluids, stay hydrated, don’t drink alcohol,” Dr. Dailey said.